January 5, 1989 – The Skies Over Libya – Protests At The Security Council – The Failing Health Of An Emperor.
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January 5, 1989 – News of Libyan protests and emergency sessions at the UN Security council this day.
The protests were over the shooting down of two Libya MiG-23’s by two U.S. airforce F-14 tomcats over the Mediterranean in what was disputed airspace. Libya claimed it was within territorial waters, while the U.S. insisted the MiG’s were pursuing the American planes.
On 4 January 1989, two Grumman F-14 Tomcats of the United States Navy shot down two Libyan-operated Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23s which the Americans believed were attempting to engage them, as had happened eight years prior during the 1981 Gulf of Sidra incident. The engagement took place over the Mediterranean Sea about 40 miles north of Tobruk, Libya.
At 11:55 local time, the E-2 detected two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers taking off from Al Bumbah airfield, near Tobruk, and observed them heading north toward the battle group. The F-14s from VF-32 were directed to intercept the MiG-23s, while the F-14s from VF-14 covered the A-6s as they departed to the north. Using their onboard radars, the intercepting F-14s began tracking the MiG-23s when the Libyan aircraft were 72 nautical miles away, at an altitude of 8,000 feet, and traveling at a speed of 420 knots. Unlike some previous aerial encounters, where Libyan pilots were instructed to turn back after detecting an F-14’s radar signal sweep their aircraft, the MiG-23s continued to close in on the American fighters with a head-on approach.
The MiG-23s continued to fly directly toward the American fighters at 550 knots (1,020 km/h; 630 mph). The F-14s executed a defensive split, where both aircraft made turns in opposite directions. Both Libyan fighters turned left to pursue the second F-14, Gypsy 202. Connelly prepared Gypsy 207 for a right turn to get behind the MiG-23s as they went after the other American fighter. With the MiG-23s pointed directly at him, Lieutenant Commander Steven Collins, the RIO in Gypsy 202, fired a third AIM-7 from roughly five miles (8.0 km) away and downed one of the Libyan aircraft. After executing a sharp right turn, Gypsy 207 gained a position in the rear quadrant of the final MiG-23. As the Libyan fighter was turning left and at distance of one and a half miles (2.4 km), Connelly fired an AIM-9 missile which downed its target. The time was 12:02:36 when the last MiG-23 was hit by the AIM-9. The F-14s descended to several hundred feet in altitude and departed at high speed back to the carrier group. The Libyan pilots were both seen to successfully eject and parachute into the sea, but it is not known whether the Libyan Air Force was able to successfully recover them.
In other news- the health of Japanese Emperor Hirohito was declining rapidly. On 22 September 1987, the Emperor underwent surgery on his pancreas after having digestive problems for several months. The doctors discovered that he had duodenal cancer. The Emperor appeared to be making a full recovery for several months after the surgery. About a year later, however, on 19 September 1988, he collapsed in his palace, and his health worsened over the next several months as he suffered from continuous internal bleeding.
As of this broadcast, Hirohito was still alive, receiving two more blood transfusions, but according to spokespeople, the Emperor was weaker than ever.
And that’s just small slice of what happened, this January 5, 1989 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.